Hi, going through divorce, stbx has mental health issues (in denial) and has a history of self harm, attempted suicide, threatening to kill the kids, domestic violence to me and emotional and mental and verbal abuse to me, all infront of the kids. Rather than just getting a lot of contact with them (I current dont even have that, due to her bitterness) I cannot feel happy having them brought up by stbx. She herself is 3rd generation abuser and I fear my kids may absorb some of these traits over time.
Their ages are 3 through to 13. I am very close to all of them and am a loving, calm, active dad...active until 3 months ago when we separated.
Wife has been very bitter throughout, the process, denying me access for 3 months initially.
I am putting together a file of her behaviour and history with a view to this being used as supporting evidence to demonstrate that she is unfit to be a good mother.
I would prefer the kids have two active parents, and I do to a large extent provide a protective and calming influence to offset
stbx''s behaviour. She has some history of hitting the kids, but mainly its the mental abuse that does the damage and that I am worried about. For instance, she has always conducted her abuse of me infront of them, and shows them her anger a lot, saying they should know that they make adults angry and should learn to deal with it. She draws them very close emotionally to her, and involves them in all her drama, outbursts, and basically treats them as extensions of her rather than little people who have their own rights to be protected even from the worst of their own parents behaviour.
I am thinking of self repping as current lawyers are worse than useless.
So what I would like advice on is how to go about applying for custody, how to build my case:
- Can I use the same application for increased contact, interim contact, and custody?
- do I need to inform stbx of my plans?
- I am writing down everything I recall, and it takes pages and pages, however there has been very limited contact with officialdom as I tried to keep our problems in house, and tried to solve them ourselves, so a lot of it is my statement of what happened - is this good enough?
- how should I structure it? I dont want it to seem like I am just bringing up our problems, but rather every incident is indicative of traits that make her an unfit mother, and want to highlight those traits backed up by substantial evidence of those traits...does that sound ok?
- her own parents were severe abusers, she told me all about it, can I refer to this as I think this indicative of cyclical and absorbed behaviour.
-stbx is on the surface charming, presentable, articulate and can easily fool casual observers that she is absolutely fine, however reference to the truth of her abuse tends to bring out her true personality in my experience. Can she continue this facade all the way through and fool the courts and CAFCAS etc?
- Do I realistically have any chance of a positive outcome?
- my stbx will come out with all kinds of lies and denial typical of abusers, I hope the courts have experience of this and will see through them...?
Any thoughts, questions, feedback will be most welcome.
Thank you for reading.